To be perfectly honest, after I booked this part of our cruise I got really nervous. I was also surprised at how many people said they were looking forward to my review of this ship. I started thinking about how old the Ecstasy was. Mark and Trenton didn’t have as much fun on the Valor last year because they have really gotten used to the 2.0 upgrades. Then of course, if you read the reviews online, it is usually one horror story after another.
What I did chose to focus on was the Ecstasy has gotten some upgrades, including some Waterworks so that was a plus. I told everyone, “Listen… it’s a smaller, older boat, but it does have new water slides. It’s only 4 days. You can handle it.” As usual, I decided to approach it with a positive side and form my own opinions.
Embarkation went really well. We were one of the first ones on the boat. We had purchased Faster to the Fun since we would not be Platinum until our next cruise. I personally think it was worth the $49.95 we have always paid for it, though now I hear it has gone up to $59. I would gladly pay for Mark and Mom not to have to get grumpy in lines and for the ability to drop our carry on bags off in the room and not lug them around for 2+ hours. Platinum and Diamond guests were called to board before FTTF. Since that seems to be such a big complaint, I have been watching for it.
When we walked onto the Lido deck, I was pleasantly surprised. It was beautiful and didn’t look “old” at all. There was also a big sign advertising they now had “Suess at Sea.” We did not do that on this cruise, but did make it to it on the Breeze, so my thoughts on that will be in another blog.
While it is a small ship… it doesn’t take long to get from one end to the other. Trenton and I started exploring on the top deck and before I realized it, we were at the end and ready to go down to the next one. I know on some boats it can be exhausting and a real pain when you are on one end and it always seems like where you need to go is on the other. We had adjoining balcony cabins almost in the very back of the ship, but it never felt like we had to walk to the other end of the earth to get somewhere.
Our cabin air conditioner worked REALLY well! I mean really well. I have never been in a cabin that was so darn cold. Mark was in heaven. I even resorted to unfolding the pool towels and putting them on the bed as extra blankets… and that little yellowish orange thingy they drape at the end of the bed… I added that too!
The water pressure in the shower was phenomenal. Some showers I can barely get enough water pressure to get all my hair wet, much less get the soap out. This water pressure was amazing.
I did not think the ship was showing its “age”. I don’t think it looked old. It didn’t feel cramped. Cosmetically, I was really pleased. Sometimes you can see spots on walls or in the showers and stairwells, but overall, I thought the Ecstasy looked pretty well taken care of.
The balcony room was significantly smaller than all the other ships we have been on. We were in a standard balcony room. There was no couch. No coffee table. Only enough room for 2 small tables beside the bed and 1 little chair pushed up against the wall. There was no full length mirror and NO hair dryer! Yikes. Mom called guest services and begged to have 1 sent up. Thankfully they did and we just shared it. This was the first boat I have encountered that did not have one in the room. There were also no robes in the closets. We did not receive our past guest pins, there was no Carnival note pad or pen in the room, no samples in the bathroom and no chocolates at night.
Day 1 we were told our room was ready, and it looked like it was ready, but really wasn’t. About 2 hours after we had been there, they brought our VIFP waters. When Mark pulled the bed sheets back on our bed that night there were crumbs and a long hair on the sheets that we had yet to sleep under. We called the room steward and asked for all the sheets and pillow cases to be changed again please. This was a first for me. I was speechless.
There are no refrigerators in the rooms. We had some medication that needs to be refrigerated so they were able to bring us one, which they did with no problems. Even brought an extension cord because it took up the 1 outlet in the room.
The service on the ship was not as good as we are used too. Obviously the issue with the room steward above. We saw some staff openly bicker with each other, which shocked me. Service in the dining room in the mornings was so bad, Me… the most patient person in the world actually got up and left one morning because we had been sitting at a table for over 15 minutes without being acknowledged or even having water poured. When you purchase FTTF you are able to use the Diamond and Platinum line at guest services. Twice we were in the Diamond and Platinum line at guest services and they continued to wait on everyone else who was there. It wasn’t a huge deal. I am not a Prima Donna or anything, but I have never encountered this on another ship. I was even told once… excuse me, they were here first. Okie Dokie. While I was waiting patiently… alone in the FTTF line, a man was inquiring on his necklace (dog tags) that were misplaced when they had him remove them for the security scanners. One of the tags had his deceased father’s thumb print on it and he was trying to explain the importance and what they looked like. Someone from guest services had told him they were found and would be sent up to his cabin, but they never arrived. The lady helping him actually rolled her eyes. We saw him the next day and he said he still had not received them back. I sure hope he was able to find them.
So overall, the cruise did not suck. We had a great time and I don’t regret it at all. I do also understand everyone has a different experience. I can’t tell you how many times people have complained about how awful a cruise was that I was on and I thought it was fantastic. However, if I am ranking every cruise I have taken, the service on the Carnival Ecstasy was the worst for us. That makes me sad to say it, but I’m honest. I am not sure if since it was just a 4 day cruise the staff was beat down from “party people”. I don’t know the answer. I just know, I was disappointed.
Sooo… that’s the bad part. Here is my pictures and review of the boat itself, which I actually liked. The layout on the Ecstasy is different than the majority of the boats we have sailed on. Our first cruise was on the Elation, which I think is similar, but it was 10 years ago. The main difference was most boats you enter into the Atrium on Deck 3. Decks 3-5 have the lobby, pictures, casino, shops, etc. On the Elation, you enter at Deck 7. 7-9 have all the good stuff and the cabins are mostly below deck 7. There are also not very many balcony rooms and they are located on the very ends of the ship. Midship are the suites.
The dining rooms are located on Deck 8. We are used to most dining rooms being on Decks 3 and 4. We had anytime dining and ate in the Wind Star Dining Room, which was midship. Deck 8 also had some fun shops, but the seemed tucked away in the corners... almost like they were an afterthought or add on. It wasn't the general "shopping area" we were used to. You could see the liquor shop, the shop with the clothes and cruise stuff was back behind it. The "jewelry shop" was actually towards the aft on Deck 9... kind of like, "whoa... there's a little shop there. Just randomly placed." The candy shop is also next to it. One more thing I was sad about... over the years I began collecting key chains of the places we visit. I always get the little round ship keychain for every boat we go on. The Ecstasy did not have one of these. I am not sure why... I even looked on Ebay and such when I came home and can't find one anywhere. So... the streak here has been broken. Perhaps I can find one sometime down the road and add it to my collection.
One thing I was pleasantly surprised about is this ship had a rockin library. It is located near the dining room entrance on Deck 8 so there were always people there. It was a really nice place to sit and wait for the rest of your party or even just to kick back in the air conditioning and people watch. They also had a really cool globe and ship models. The ship model is pictured above. Deck 9 has a Serentity area in the back. This was a really nice upgrade. It also has the Starlight lounge in the back where we participated in the Harry Potter trivia and got a whopping 5 questions right. If you are into Harry Potter and going on the Ecstasy…. Brush up my friends. Deck 9 is also home to the casino and arcade. The taste bar is also located by the casino. I love getting little samples from there. Everything is always so good!
Deck 10 is your Lido and pool. Along with the upgrades came the Red Frog Rum Bar and Blue Iguana Bar. The Ecstasy has a stage in the middle of the Lido and they have the chess game and bean bag toss game up there.
11 is water works. Trenton and Mark both tried out the water slides and had a great time. I think I am passing on all future water slides and decided to read my book and work on my tan :) Deck 12 is spa and gym. Since this was the first leg of our trip the theme was "Relaxation and Unwind!" We had multiple massages. One thing about the spa that seemed different from my other experiences that I really liked was they had a little shelf in the room with the products they were currently promoting. So no awkward sales pitch afterwards where they carry stuff in and try to get you to buy. Of course since we know this is the deal, we always just say... I'm not buying any products, so please don't go over them with me. I will tip you extra and book another massage if you don't :) That always works! They gym was small, but nice and adequate. We also worked out quite a bit during these 4 days. 12 days on a cruise ship can do some major damage to your waistline if you don't do something to offset the calories!!
At the very top of the ship you will find the mini golf course. This is where the running track is too. Trenton is actually standing on it. You just circle the deck and that means around the mini golf. It was W I N D Y up there which just makes the putt putt game a little more fun and challenging! You had to have a plan in place as soon as you set your ball down or you were going for a moving target. Trenton and I had a blast!
So to recap. I liked this boat. I had planned in my head it would be old and not much fun and that certainly was not the case. It was a perfect little boat for a small cruise. No big special eating places, but the food was good and we enjoyed it all. I was shocked at the customer service on the boat and the fact that I saw it lacking in many areas. Not sure if it was just an "off" week for the staff or not.
Since we were relaxing and unwinding I did not plan any excursions for our 2 stops this cruise which were Key West and Cozumel. How we spent our days will be coming up next...